Washington Loan and Trust Company, 17th and G Streets Branch (1924-1974)

A superb example of the Beaux Arts and Italian Renaissance Revival styles, this commercial bank building’s demolition would lead to a stronger relationship between citizen preservation groups and future developments.

Built in 1924, the 17th and G Streets Branch of the Washington Loan & Trust Company was an outstanding example of Beaux Arts and Italian Renaissance Revival styles. In fact, Arthur B. Heaton, the building’s architect, would be given an award for the building’s architectural merit by the Washington Board of Trade in 1927. The bank’s exterior, which emulated Renaissance design and included sculpted portrait medallions and cast-iron doors, was razed in 1974 by the General Services Administration (GSA) and replaced with a large, Brutalist inspired office building for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. The demolition occurred, despite the building being formally recognized as architecturally significant by the Joint Committee on Landmarks in 1964.

The Washington Loan & Trust Company, 17th and G Streets Branch, was one of two banks designed by Arthur B. Heaton (1875-1908) in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style — the other being the Chevy Chase Savings Bank, which was completed in 1926 and still stands as a historic landmark. Its prize winning design produced an “Italian Renaissance Palazzo” that was “transmitted to a street corner in the District of Columbia,” remarked James Goode in Capital Losses. The bank building would be absorbed by the Riggs National Bank in 1954, and would serve as a branch until 1965. 

The construction of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board Building, in place of the bank branch, led to a legal fight between preservation activists, including Don’t Tear It Down (now the DC Preservation League), and GSA. The case was dismissed and the new federal building was completed in 1977.

This controversy would lead to a greater emphasis on incorporating the thoughts and concerns of local citizens into the development of the new building, and would help establish a space that is “sympathetic to the surrounding landscape,” including the historic Winder Building. Today, visitors to the modern building can observe the historic bronze medallions, which were salvaged from the demolished bank building.

DC Inventory: November 8. 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)

Demolished: 1974



17th & G Streets, NW